Elon Musk wants to deliver wifi to flights via his Starlink satellites

SpaceX has launched 1,740 Starlink satellites into orbit and has more than 100,000 users in 14 countries

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 15 October 2021 20:12

What is SpaceX’s Starlink?

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Elon Musk wants to deliver internet to passenger airplanes via his Starlink broadband satellite network.

The SpaceX CEO tweeted that his company was talking to US airlines about providing their customers with in-flight wifi internet, an he urged his followers to tell the airlines to get onboard.

“Yes, we are talking to airlines about installing Starlink. Please let them know if you want it on your airliner,” the entrepreneur told a follower when asked about the possibility.

“Low latency ~half gigabit connectivity in the air!”

Mr Musk did not mention how much the service would cost passengers, as most in-flight wifi packages have to be paid for.

Starlink is SpaceX’s internet network powered by thousands of satellites that can deliver high-speed connections to consumers anywhere on Earth.

SpaceX has so far launched 1,740 Starlink satellites into orbit and the service already has more than 100,000 user in 14 countries taking part in a $99-a-month beta test.

Airlines currently work with satellite broadband providers, but with Starlink’s satellites in a much closer orbit to Earth it could boost the intreat speeds available to passengers.

Earlier this year, Mr Musk tweeted that testing had focused on Boeing 737, Airbus A320 and Gulfstream aircraft “as those serve the most number of people.”

SpaceX vice president Jonathan Hofeller has said that the company was “in talks with several” airlines about adding Starlink wifi, and that they had an “aviation product in development.”

In March, SpaceX made a Federal Communications Commission filing to get regulatory approval to connect Starlink satellites to cars, trucks, cargo ships and aircraft.

Starlink’s beta programme is currently aimed at rural areas of the US, with an antenna and router costing $499 and delivers speeds of between 70 to 130 Mbps.

In July California Highway Patrol stopped a motorist who had a Starlink dish fitted to the hood of their Toyota Prius car.

“Yes, it is in fact illegal to mount a satellite dish to the hood of your vehicle,” CHP’s Facebook post said.

“It’s about safety folks. These are the real stories of the Highway Patrol. Safe travels everyone.”

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